CAUGHT

It’s caught,

held for a moment on its way somewhere –

where?

Its movement arrested, it seems

comfortable (and what is comfort anyway, but

the false security

that nothing will change?)

It’s stalled, or maybe

paused

in this in-between place.

Not my idea of home.

But still, it settles in

until the next shift

nudges it along.

*

1. The next breeze might blow this seed onto the ground – or maybe not. Hollywood Heights, Los Angeles, California.

2. A Ginkgo leaf is temporarily trapped in the clutches of pine needles. Lu Shan Garden, Portland, Oregon.

3. On a quiet residential street, a spring blossom has fallen into a bed of leaves. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

*

The word “caught” can indicate a number of different states of being – caught in a maelstrom, caught lying, caught a break. These particular images came together because one day when I was out with my camera I noticed a leaf caught on a twig, suspended in mid-fall. Soon I began to see this phenomenon of things caught on other things frequently. I photographed leaves and other bits of flotsam caught on fences, speared by twigs, and resting on bigger leaves. There’s something poignant about these suspended moments, something that speaks to the ultimately temporary nature of all things, the “just-passing-through” sense of life that we humans find hard to accept.

I started adding the keyword “caught” to photographs in Lightroom so I could gather them together. Here’s a selection that spans eleven years and two continents.

*

4. It was a poignant sight – dozens of little dead moths, covered with dew and caught on branches along a trail on a cold October morning. Baker River Trail, Concrete, Washington.

5. A feather caught on a blackberry branch. Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Duvall, Washington.

6. Fluff from Cottonwood tree seeds is caught in a corner of a roadside parking lot. Near Edison, Washington.

7. Even in January, the fallen leaves of Bigleaf maples trees remain snagged in branches high above the ground. O.O. Denny Park, Kirkland, Washington.

8. This lichen-covered twig fell right into the “arms” of a Madrone tree and stayed there. Sharpe Park, Fidalgo Island, Washington.

9. A length of cloth was tied to a rusty barbed wire fence, and then came the wind. Duvall, Washington.

*

*

11. A length of plastic, whipped and wound by the wind on a cold day. Somewhere in upstate New York.

12. A tangle of tiny, curly leaves held by a depression in a wavy Hosta leaf. Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bellevue, Washington.

13. Bigleaf maples, with their deeply indented lobes, are always getting caught on branches and fences. Duvall, Washington.

*

14. Fireweed seeds caught in a spider web. Juanita Bay, Kirkland, Washington.

15. This barbed wire fence has been catching hanks of sheep wool – do they rub up against it or are they just passing by? Klein Reken, Germany.

16. High tides and winds wrap strands of eel grass around the branches of trees that grow close to the water. Deception Pass State Park, Washington.

17. Leaves scrunched in the cracked mud of a dry creek bed. Somewhere in southeastern Arizona.

*

*

19. Leaves from a Japanese maple tree fell into this Japanese lantern. Lu Shan Garden, Portland, Oregon.

20. The viscid caps of these mushrooms capture tiny treasures – Douglas fir needles, bits of leaves, a blade of grass and a tiny Redcedar cone. Deception Pass State Park, Washington.

21. A Bigleaf maple leaf hung up on a barbed wire fence. Snoqualmie Valley, Washington.

22. A wild Rhododendron blossom stopped by a Salal leaf. It will probably disintegrate right here, with the help of gentle spring rains. Deception Pass State Park, Washington.

23. Nature never ceases to amaze. This skeletonized leaf must have been caught on the tip of the horsetail plant when it was just beginning to grow. Mercer Slough, Bellevue, Washington.

24. A beautiful tropical leaf with an artful sprinkling of pollen. Hortus Botanicus, Leiden, Netherlands.

25. A year and a week later I observed the same phenomenon closer to home. Tree pollen was abundant, coating this Salal leaf. I wonder why the tiny pollen grains stayed in the veins – maybe because a day of heavy fog was followed by a still, dry day. The moisture from the fog may have coalesced, carrying the pollen grains into the veins of the leaf, where the grains settled and formed the pattern you see. (This is called making it up as you go along!) Mt. Erie, Fidalgo Island, Washington.

26. Where would we be if bees didn’t catch pollen? This one carries a load of precious Trillium pollen. Somewhere in King County, Washington.

27. The shredded leaf of this tropical plant is caught between the stems, looking like it might get up and dance if the right music is played. Fort Myers, Florida.

28. And more.

29. Snow often does brief balancing acts when it piles up precariously on twigs and branches. Kirkland, Washington.

30. A leaf is caught on my windshield on a rainy December evening. Kirkland, Washington.

***


75 comments

  1. When I saw the title and the first photo, I knew I would find the barbed wire with the sheep wool among the pictures … and there it is! Such a marvellous series of images, dear Lynn, full of your love of the small things in nature. It is a special joy for me to see these, it gives me lightness and pleasure when I need them most.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s nice to know you were drawn to #7 – I tried to bring in some detail while keeping that misty glow we see so often here in the forests. It’s that time of year, isn’t it, when you need a shovel in one hand and a camera in the other….thanks!!

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  2. An etymological note on your introduction: the original sense of the verb comfort is ‘strengthen,’ as when we comfort someone who is afflicted (compare the related fortitude and fortress). Only later did comfort become ease.

    What great mossy branches in #7, thanks to your temperate rainforests. The bullwhip kelp in #10 could almost pass for a real bullwhip. #20 is a reminder that things in nature often end up in strange places, particularly places that do them no good. Another example is the fireweed seeds in the spiderweb in #14. Your #6 explains why a cottonwood tree is called what it is.

    I like the colors in #27. That’s one bedusted bee in #26. In contrast, the pollen phenomenon in #25 is new to me, too, and probably to most people. I’ve also never seen a leaf configured like the one in #24. #23 is strange indeed, yet I’ve seen something along the same lines in Austin: https://tinyurl.com/yc5famss.

    The location of #30 makes me think of Costco, whose house brand is Kirkland. And #29, also from there, is a good minimalist black and white view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting! Like forte in music, too. And the “com” is with? Or? I had that same thought about the seeds caught in the web. The pollen may not have done its job either but hey, that’s why plants make so much of it. The colors in #27 were what prompted me to include it – colors are generally so subdued around here – a little “pop” is nice. I will say that my eyes kind of popped out of my head when I saw the leaves with pollen settled into their veins. It took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at!
      It’s too bad I didn’t make a note of the name of that plant at the botanical garden in Leiden, Such a beauty. I wonder if some botanist has a theory as to why the leaf is shaped that way. I checked your photo – that’s a good one! I believe I’ve seen plant parts sticking out of other plant parts like that. There’s always another surprise around the corner.
      Thanks, Steve! Have a nice week. ;- )

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  3. You’ve given us three levels of enjoyment, Lynn: individual photographs, each of which could stand on its own; a unifying notion of visual caughtness; and your poem “Caught,” with its musings on what it can mean metaphorically to be caught. Your deep seeing and deep thinking are awe inspiring. I could pick out a few of my favorite individual photographs (numbers 4, 7, 8, 9 (all three), 10, 14, 17, and the first 18.) But, really, they all gather strength from each other; it’s a wonderful collection. I love your vision. Thank you.

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  4. For these elements of nature whose movement was stopped by chance and somewhat “frozen” in time, life went on. But in another way.
    Faced with images of the kind that Lynn published today, I often think “what a pity (the leaf, the seed, etc.) to be caught in the only moment of liberation from their existence and in the only and final flight. Forever or temporarily.
    In the same way that life “catches” us in unforeseen circumstances, ephemeral or that will leave deep marks over time.
    Anyway, whatever the genre of “caught”, it will always be a new evolutionary experience!
    Congratulations for this magnificent set of images, for the idea they contain and for the longevity of the project!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, life went on but in another way. It’s an interesting phenomenon and I can see your mind’s wheels are turning, Dulce! 😉 I like your observation that life catches us, too, and puts us into unforeseen circumstances. That is a very good description of 2020! Some of the effects of this year will pass quickly but other effects will be felt for a long time. I thank you for coming here with an open, inquisitive mind and sharing your thoughts. Have a good week and stay healthy!

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  5. Very well put – “the “just-passing-through” sense of life that we humans find hard to accept. ” Absolutely right: as an antidote, I prescribe a course in geology! As to these pictures, 27 and 30 are my outright favourites; wonderful! Also very much like 11, 12, 23 and 28. 🙂

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    • I’m feeling guilty about not having seen your blog in over a week – maybe two! But I will get there and in the meantime, I’m grateful for your visit. That’s funny about geology providing us with a little perspective! I just realized that #30 could fit your early morning street scene series. It’s gratifying to see you pull out those black and whites for praise, thank you. And stay healthy – hope you’re in line for the vaccine soon!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robert, it’s nice to know that the minimalistic black and white speaks to you. Small things we see in everyday life can make nice images, and I’m really pleased that you interpreted it in a positive way. We certainly need light right now, whether we are in Italy or England or America – or anywhere else on this planet! Thank you and stay safe!

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  6. Excellent poem, a perfect prelude to the images. A nice hall-of-mirrors feeling to your project, since every photo arrests movement, some split second in time, and then there’s the moment we viewers first see an image, and we’re still for a bit, taking it in. It’s a terrific theme you’ve thought of, and the photos themselves are great as illustrations of your idea, and just for their own qualities. You’ve right, there is something in these that strikes me as poignant, even a deceased moth.
    It’s a decidedly non-poetic term, but I think sometimes about “non-places”- – a book I read in college borrowed this coinage from Marc Augé, an anthropologist. Basically places we move through, in anonymity, and we don’t form any links to them, they don’t establish meaningfulness for us. I think your shots are kind of the opposite – – they do reflect the in-between, temporary states, and both the objects and the viewers are just passing through, as you say, but they also suggest a connection, and that you find them imbued them with some sort of meaningfulness. Well! That’s pretty darn philosophical-sounding for a Tuesday afternoon, don’t you think? Very successful project, congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So you’re saying I caught you with these “Caught” images? Nice. Yes, pretty philosophical for a Tuesday afternoon, and I’ll take it! I looked up Marc Auge’s notion of the non-place and read a little (just the Wikipedia entry, I confess). I can see what you’re getting at. I think an in-between, temporary state can have as much meaning or power as something more long-lasting. The meaning comes from the person interacting with the place or state. When I’m that person, if I take a photo and share it, then I hope at least some of the meaningfulness that I perceived reaches the person looking at the photograph. I think that’s happening here. 🙂 Thank you, Robbert, and now maybe I’ll go get a cup of Joe, it’s getting to be that time of the afternoon when a pick-me-up would do wonders. 😉

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  7. I have to repeat myself, sorry, but I love them all! Pictures #1, 7 (it reminds me of a christmas tree :-), 8, 20, 23 and the photos from the beach are my most favorite this time and I love this tropical leave which is so beautiful. What an incredible form of beauty nature has created here. But I could add all the other pictures too. I understand you very well, that you give these little findings and treasures so much thoughtfulness / attention, but your eye for it and your affection can be seen in your unique photos. They are wonderful! And you have this talent to find these very special little things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s fine with me if you love them all! #20 might be something that you see sometimes, too. I’m happy to hear you say that you can see my affection for these oddities in the photos. That’s good! As for finding these small treasures, I guess it has to do with being very curious, noticing details, and appreciating anything out of the ordinary. Put those things together and you have a person who walks very slowly because she is stopping over and over again! 😉 Thanks, have a good week!

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    • It’s good to hear from you, Sheri, and thank you. That horsetail with the leaf was so strange! But some of the other scenes must look familiar to you. I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season one way or another. Take care and stay healthy!

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      • The bigleaf maple leaves hanging everywhere are certainly familiar. 🙂 I’ve finally emerged from Miss Livingstone book III publishing – Kindle is up, and final proof arriving any moment, so I can release the print version for the launch on Dec. 21st. I’m enjoying freedom from my ‘second job’ for the remainder of the holiday season. Hooray! Decided on a winter solstice book launch since I will indeed feel like light is returning having the story off my desk and out in the world!
        I’ve saved a backlog of your posts and will enjoy them in my extra downtime.
        I hope you enjoy the holiday season also!! Take care and be well, my friend!

        Liked by 1 person

        • A Solstice launch (with that Jupiter-Saturn conjunction shedding light) – what nice timing. I’m picturing Mt. Si with a dusting of snow…and the river must be high…congratulations on completing the book and have fun!

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    • Thanks a lot, Harrie. I’m sorry to hear you’re in lockdown again – we see some news about Germany but not much from the Netherlands, so I didn’t know about that. But we gotta do what we gotta do, right? We’re OK…Joe says “Hi!” and we both send holiday greetings…take care!

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    • That’s great to hear, Julie, I’m not always sure if something like this, which is a little out of the ordinary, will appeal to the same people who appreciate the nature walks. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm – it’s always welcome here. 😉

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  8. I simply love your theme, Lynn. Yes, visual poetry indeed. This reminds me of the Dorothea Lange quote, “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
    There are so many wonderful images here to study… the monochromes hit me- the spider web and fireweed is so delicately beautiful. The barbed wire and fence shots are artful and the amazing skeleton leaf took my breath away. Photography really does teach us to see. (thank you Berenice Abbott). Have a good holiday, Lynn. 🙂

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    • I don’t know how you keep these quotes in your head, Jane, and that’s a perfect one. It’s nice to hear that you’re drawn to the monochromes because I know how much you enjoy doing them yourself. It was fun to see how many images with “caught” as a keyword there were to choose from – lots and lots! Thanks very much, Jane, you have a peaceful, warm day as well.

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  9. What a fantastic series and such an imaginative concept, Lynn.You always come up with something cohesive yet quite variable in the subjects. These are all wonderful.. I guess maybe those sheep had an itch they needed to scratch. 🙂 I loved the fireweed seeds caught in the webbing and the lichen encrusted twig in the Madrone juncture. Each is worthy of some lingering to enjoy.
    Merry Christmas to you and Joe!

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  10. The color green, as seen in your work, often has a special meaning for me. Deep, lush and resonant, like the greens in autochromes a century ago: that’s what I see in images like your #24, and in so many others over the years.

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    • That’s interesting, John…it’s a very green world here and at times I cast around for other colors. But lush it is, and who’s to complain about that? My palette surrounds me. In the best scenario, I feel warm about all this green, all the growth, and that feeling appears in the images. Thank you for making me think!

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  11. What an absolutely wonderful and original theme. You must have been collecting this one for awhile! Once again I am impressed with your observation and vision! I like so many! #7 is one I went back to … the contrasting colors and web-like background are amazing!

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    • Thank you so much! You’re right, it’s been going on a while. And I think the dense vegetation here may encourage a lot of caught-midfall activity. E.g. a common deciduous tree is the Bigleaf maple, which has huge leaves with deep lobes. Those leaves are always getting hung up on the way to the ground, as in #7, the one you mentioned. Glad you enjoyed this, Denise! I hope you’re enjoying a cozy break over there in snow country.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Scott – one photo I decided not to include shows a dead nestling caught in a cactus – fascinating but gruesome. Anyway, on that note, I hope that 2021 brings you some goodness. Take care and stay healthy!

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  12. I like the theme but the caught feather is my favorite. There’s something about bird feathers that speak to me from the tiniest hummingbird and siskin fluff to the eagle feathers found in passing.

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  13. I have to tell you, I think of you and your work every time I see a leaf caught on its way down to earth……
    Hmmm. Tagging things in LR? Maybe if I did that, I’d actually be able to find stuff without scrolling through 15 years and 50,000 images! What a concept……

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